Alerts and Updates

D.C. Mayor Closes All Nonessential Businesses and Prohibits Large Gatherings

March 25, 2020

The mayor’s order will remain in effect through April 24, 2020, until extended, rescinded or superseded by a subsequent order.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order to take effect at 10:00 p.m. on March 25, 2020, that will close all nonessential business facilities in the District, prohibit all persons suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 from conducting “Essential Business,” and prohibit gatherings of 10 or more persons.

Closure of Nonessential Business Facilities

Examples of nonessential businesses that must close their facilities are:

  1. Tour guides and touring services;
  2. Gyms, health clubs, spas and massage establishments;
  3. Theaters, auditoriums and other places of large gatherings;
  4. Nightclubs;
  5. Hair, nail and tanning salons and barbershops;
  6. Tattoo parlors;
  7. Sales not involved in essential services;
  8. Retail clothing stores; and
  9. Professional services not devoted to assisting essential business operations.

The mayor’s order defines “Essential Businesses” encouraged to remain open to include:

  1. Healthcare and public health operations;
  2. Essential infrastructure (e.g., public works, utilities, telecommunications, waste removal);
  3. Food and household products and services;
  4. Social services providing the necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals;
  5. Communications and information technology;
  6. Energy and automotive;
  7. Financial services;
  8. Educational institutions (but only for distance learning);
  9. Transportation and logistics;
  10. Construction and building trades that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation and operation of residences and essential businesses;
  11. Housing and living facilities;
  12. Professional services―but only when necessary to assist in compliance with legally mandated activities, essential businesses or essential governmental functions; and
  13. Childcare facilities for children of essential employees.

The order expressly authorizes all businesses―essential and nonessential―to permit their employees to telework from home. All businesses may also conduct “Minimum Basic Operations” from their D.C.-based facilities, which includes “activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits” as well as to facilitate telework for employees and maintain the facility.

Other Preventative Measures

The mayor’s order expressly states that “an individual who is suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 or any other transmissible infectious disease or who has symptoms of a cold or influenza (‘the flu’) may not be engaged in conducting Essential Business.”

Finally, Mayor Bower’s March 24 order prohibits all large gatherings (defined as 10 or more persons), but excludes persons gathered to perform essential businesses or essential government functions, as well as office spaces, hotels and residential buildings.

The mayor’s order will remain in effect through April 24, 2020, until extended, rescinded or superseded by a subsequent order.

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Duane Morris has created a COVID-19 Strategy Team to help organizations plan, respond to and address this fast-moving situation. Contact your Duane Morris attorney for more information. Prior Alerts on the topic are available on the team’s webpage.

For More Information

If you have questions about this Alert, please contact Sharon L. Caffrey, Michael J. Schrier, any of the attorneys in our Washington, D.C., office, any member of the COVID-19 Strategy Team or the attorney in the firm with whom you are in regular contact

Disclaimer: This Alert has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. For more information, please see the firm's full disclaimer.